BATTLE OF THE CORAL SEA - SIGNIFICANCE
May 4, 2017 is the 75th anniversary of the critical Battle of the Coral Sea (May 4-8, 1942), which inflicted the first defeat suffered by the Empire of Japan and stopped the looming Japanese invasion of Australia.
Aided with early intelligence from Australian military decoding a key message: “The objective will be to restrict enemy fleet movements by means of attacks on the north coast of Australia,” joint American and Australian naval forces were in place to intercept the invading fleet. This was the first naval engagement where opposing sides remained entirely out of visual range, but the resulting losses showed how critical naval aviation would be in the future of warfare.
The Allies lost 543 servicemen, 66 aircraft, the carrier the USS Lexington, the destroyer Sims and the oiler Neosho. Though the Yorktown was damaged, it was repaired in time to join the fray at Midway, only four weeks later.
The Empire of Japan lost 1,074 killed or wounded, 104 aircraft, the carrier Shoho, 2 destroyers and 9 other vessels, and their carrier Shokaku was damaged and denied to the Japanese fleet at Midway.
Strategically, the hard earned victory in the Coral Sea enabled both the critical Allied success at the Battle of Midway on June 4, as well as the first successful land invasion in the Pacific at Guadalcanal on August 7, 1942.
The battle is widely considered by many as, ‘the battle that saved Australia’.